Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Podcast: What Really Happened in Houston at Bayou City

May 22, 5 pm ET: Listen live and call in at 805-243-1338

As the new interim executive director took on the reins at the Bayou City Art Festival in Houston late last year, it became apparent to Susan Fowler that the organization was stretched beyond financial viability. This is a festival that depends on an admission charge that had been negatively impacted by the weather.


Four festivals back to back with rain had drained their savings  that were in fact a literal rainy day fund because the Bayou City Art Festivals are outdoor events.


The Art Colony Association, which hosts the Bayou City shows, needed to do something fast to keep the popular festivals alive and well.


When the Board of the Art Colony met in January they put the wheels in motion to expand the event from 300 artists to 450 artists plus several other changes that they hoped would lead to financial stability.


We'll be speaking with the Executive Director Susan Fowler and Kelly Kindred, Director of Operations to learn

    •    how a board of directors oversees an organization and its' fiscal responsibility
    •    how the decision to increase the size of the show was made
    •    how successful were the changes that they made to the Spring show
    •    what they learned from this experience
    •    what to expect next from this festival

and lots more.

Listen live at 5 pm ET. Call in with your questions: 805-243-1338. Email me with questions and comments. Leave questions for me to ask them in the comments below.

This podcast is sponsored by our 5th Annual Birthday Pledge Drive to support our art fair websites. Learn more: http://www.artfaircalendar.com/art_fair/pledgedrive.html

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Comment by Melanie Rolfes on May 27, 2014 at 6:38pm
Just had time to listen. Great job Connie
Comment by geri a. wegner on May 25, 2014 at 1:18am

Well Connie, that makes the situation more pathetic than previously thought.  And both Kelly and Susan are conveniently "blaming" their board for all the decisions made.  

Each time I read something about Bayou City, I notice more things that could have been done so much better if there were actual competent people running this show.  

They should clean house and start all over.  It can't be any worse.

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 24, 2014 at 9:42pm

The Operations Director, Kelly Kindred, has been on the staff for at least 5 years. The Bayou City Art Festival is one of the founding partners of Zapp, so definitely knows about other shows. I have met Kelly at show director conferences in Atlanta and Chicago. She personally knows Jay Downie at Fort Worth. Most of the directors from the top shows get out "on their own dime" and visit other shows to find ideas, network with the other directors, see the artists, see the work and take info back to their own organizations. The shows who partnered with Zapp are very aware of what is going on around the country at the other shows. They make it their business to know and to know you and your work.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on May 24, 2014 at 1:31pm

Thanks Oscar, I'll listen. I've listened to a few other podcasts and enjoyed them.

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on May 24, 2014 at 1:26pm

Barrie I will listen to Podcast. They actually answer  some of the questions that you make. I also will listen because it affect the perception of the promoters in general.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on May 24, 2014 at 11:00am

I haven't had time to listen to the podcast and may not ever listen to it since showing outdoors at Houston isn't my bag. Weather is unpredictable.

Has it been considered that this show move indoors? I might be inclined to come back to Houston (I did Downtown about five years ago) if it is in a convention center or other place. Maybe the show could reduce its size and move into a smaller event center? Why does the show think it has to be so flippin' big? Competition would be keen, show quality higher, etc.

Cherry Creek is now offering a second show venue during November, with fewer artists involved since they're putting it in the Denver Convention Center. I bet it will include more local and mountain states artists than their summer outdoor venue.

Did the Houston committee visit with the Downtown Fort Worth committee or other successful outfit in order to seek guidance? Seems the art show directors could organize a group in order to share info. They aren't competitive events.

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 23, 2014 at 9:19am
I don't know about them, Dick, but I certainly sent them the links.

One if the things I learned from Jon was to never stop asking. Be cordial but don't be shy. Getting to the "yes" is just part of the "sell."

Speaking of which it is pledge drive time! Click on the birthday cake and see all the cool prizes. Help support your public radio station, ER rather, your art fair radio!
Comment by Barry Bernstein on May 23, 2014 at 8:40am

I think Connie reinforced what I was saying in her post about Jon Witz spending a lot of time "dialing for dollars." That may be unpleasant, but, if you run a show, that should be a major part of your job. It's too easy to put the financial burden on the artists and shirk your responsibility as show director.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on May 23, 2014 at 8:22am

I didn't listen to this podcast as I won't go back to Texas. I have enjoyed reading Geri and Barry sticking a fork in these guys. Reminds me of the days when a geologist got caught being a promoter rather than a scientist. I wonder if the promoters of this event read AFI comments. 

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 23, 2014 at 7:08am

Jon Witz, not only is constantly on the phone doing what he calls "dialing for dollars", he also has an employee completely devoted to sponsorship. He is very good about getting sponsors. He is a deal-meister, always on and always working. You are right about that, Barry. Happy with the rest of that event?

I hope others who are interested in this topic will listen to the podcast and come to their own conclusions. I am convinced they are on the hunt for new sponsors and grants and new opportunities. People I talked to (and I did a bunch of research before the podcast) who had been there in March were guardedly optimistic that the show was going to work and hoped to be there again next year. 

Woo hoo! I just looked at the statistics and we had a record number of "live listens" to the podcast. Thanks to the folks who called in. My apologies that I wasn't able to get to all of the calls.


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